Q: People burn it too, download it or whatever. Turns out to be a big loss.
A: Yeah, so I'm scared of that. I've got some more album here lined up, which, if a good roots company would like them t'ing and listen to, I know they would love to actually release them and put them in former places for me, an' t'ing. But at the same time that's not happening I'm gonna struggle and put them out myself on vinyl LP for the time being and run them. It's like on this album which I am trying to run now, y'know. Yes. So, so far I am just here and now I am moving out with Mike Brooks and we went and do a few shows abroad in Europe and it was good, people liked it.
Q: In France?
A: Yeah, in France. And we meet some people at Reggae Remedy in France and they have a sound system, they have a radio station. So every now and again we voice some songs for them. I voiced a song named 'Ganja Tree' for them which did well for them, because I think I did press up a thousand for them here and give it to them and when I look at the internet it was sold out, Mike Brooks and Anthony Johnson sing some on the same riddim as well. They phoned me the other day and want me on some show, they also want me to voice up some more riddim, beca' they say they like my stuff an' t'ing. So we are kinda negotiating to voice up some more for them some time next month. Maybe I will have to go to Paris to voice it they say, so I will have to look into that. At the same time I've got some stuff here for myself which I might need to put out some ten-inch, ca' they say ten-inch probably might do some stuff. And I've got some rare vintage stuff an' this is never put out, so I'm gonna put that on a ten-inch which I hope they would like. So I'm running the Pick A Skill label now, and I might run a new label when I'm doing the ten-inch, I might be runnin' it on the Pick A Skill. I dunno what I will be doing yet, but things seems to be, to me, still bubblin' bright. And, as I say, I can't give up the fight, y'know.
Q: When I went to New York in the summer of last year ('03), I saw that a 7" of 'Natty Chase The Barber' was out on a blue Dub Station label, which is Jerry Baxter's label, isn't it?
A: Yes! Yes, I went to Jamaica and I saw that. Because, actually, I was aksing him, "How did you get that to put it out, Jerry?" I think I leave a CD there with 'Roots of David' and I think I had that song on it, so I think maybe that's how he got a cut. I think he put out a song on the other side, I think him and Joy White was singin' a song on the other side. On the flipside there was 'Natty Chase The Barber' and on the other side was him and Joy White singin' a song that Bob & Marcia did sing.
Q: Yes, 'Always Together'. I think Lloyd Coxsone had that one on a compilation.
A: Yeah. I think that was a man... I don't remember the guy that produced that in Jamaica for Jerry at the time, but he's runnin' it now. So, yeah, his Dub Station label is runnin'. I went to Jamaica at that time and I leave a song there with him named 'Weeping & Wailing', I dunno if he put it out. Because I actually made the stamper down in Jamaica and I made the label. I pay him to press the label and tell Jerry to put out that, because I was trying to knit up back the relationship, yunno. So I leave that with him, but I don't know what's happening, because I haven't even spoken to him (chuckles) that tough to know what's going on, y'know.
Q: There's a few singles I would like to know more about that you didn't mention, like 'Blood of the Wicked' on the Freedoms Sounds label out of Greenwich Farm. Is that even you to begin with?
A: It might be a mix-up, because I can't remember that title. 'Blood of the Wicked'? I can't remember... Sometime they do a mix-up t'ing.
Q: There was something for Pete Weston at Micron, titled 'Ishan Version'.
A: Oh, yea, 'Ishan Version'!
Q: That was a deejay tune?
A: That was a deejay tune, because in the early days I started out as a deejay. I used to deejay with Brigadier Jerry and Jah Love sound in Jamaica, before I started I was a deejay. But it wasn't much. I used to be the resident deejay for Jah Love Muzik, for the Twelve Tribes. Yeah, with Brigadier, with (Albert) Malawi and them guys. But deep down I know I want to sing. And then after when I sing 'Natty Chase The Barber' I still was like doing some deejay stuff. Because when I come to England on the Grounation label weh they put out the 'Natty Chase The Barber', the B-side was a deejay t'ing... I don't remember what they called it but it was me who was deejaying that riddim. 'Ishan Version' again, I was deejaying that one on the 'Child Of A King' riddim, and the flipside of that I play the congo on the back that was highlighted there. So, yeah, I did that one. I didn't even remember anything that I did that one (laughs)! I did a version of knockin' a congo, the same congo pan that I knock on Earl Discoteque's studio, I took that to Tubbys and play, and knock the version on that one. I can't remember what I call that one again. But the deejay style was called 'Ishan Version'. Gosh, if I could get a copy on them t'ing, 'cause some a them t'ing I don't have. Early t'ing, I don't have any more of them. I did a couple of more early tune but I don't even remember the title. But if I hear them or unless I actually see them playin'....
Q: You had one called 'Live & Love' on the Aquarius label, Herman Chin-Loy.
A: Yes, Aquarius. And also I did a next one named 'Live In Love', Aquarius. Yes, Aquarius. I don't think them even released that one, Chin-Loy. Yeah, so after that apart from a lickle short brief thing with my aunt I spent most of my life abroad away from Jamaica, and I think that is what get me out of that limelight t'ing from being well-recognised in Jamaica as like... I think I am in the stable of like Dennis Brown, Errol Dunkley, all of these kind of guys, I think I am in their bracket. But because I never continually live with music, or I never release all a them music that I did, to be up in their space. Even Bunny Lee would come to me and say, "Wha' appen! Are yu de Barber? Inna my stable yu haffe come, yunno! In my stable!" And then I keep away from those man because them man look like them are some pyaka, them jus' a come fe rob up some young artist, y'know what I mean? 'Cos through I produced some of my own t'ing meself I never really need them. But if I had actually had gone and sing some songs for Bunny Lee them time, even if he had robbed me and all, then I would have some vintage tune out there like Johnny Clarke, and man like that. I would have some nice tune out there, 'cos these guys even though they was pyaka they would be making your songs be heard. You understan'? I mean, Johnny Clarke is eating food offa the songs, even though he is not doing much recording now. But he's doing a lotta stage shows, because of these hits. If I had been doing that... Even with Lee Perry. I went up to Lee Perry one time and I never did somet'ing, he was behavin' like a kinda madman, I don't talk to people that don't behave. I never liked it, so I never go back up there. 'Cos he told me that he liked the song that I have but he had been talkin' to people and didn't behave, so I didn't like that. That's why I never really do nutten for Black Ark, for the Lee Perry studio.
Q: What about 'Natty Go There Volunteerily' on the UK Burning Sounds label?
A: I think I do that for a bredda named Jim Daddy, it must have been Jim Daddy I must've been dealin' with for that, y'know. Him did have a label named Clair. I do a tune for him named 'Raving', and the flipside is called 'Together'. I did a couple of tunes with Jim Daddy as well. To him these songs sell better than some other songs that he had. Because he used to have a record shop himself, so when he pressed them he usually didn't even give it to Jet Star or nobody, just sell it in his shop by himself and sell it off. Sometimes he sells five hundred, six hundred copies of one man's tune in his shop. He sell a lot of my songs in that way, just sellin' it in his own shop.
Q: 'People Bawling' on the Kim label is another one.
A: Yeah, that was the same Jim Daddy. Yeah, 'People Bawling', that was one of my tune from Jamaica. I do a remix with a man named Terry. I think he was the first man to actually... he used to cut dubplates. So I let him do the master for that, and Jim Daddy put that on the Kim label. An' put one called 'Baby Cry' in it, and the other side was 'Zion Train' with Jerry Baxter singin' that one. And he put a train sound in it before it start, it was good, y'know. Yeah, Jim Daddy sold round about five hundred copy of that in his shop alone. And I did one named 'Raving' which was good for him, and because he press a thousand of that to put out, and he sell the first five hundred the first time, sold off the first five hundred and so he went to press a thousand after, and he parked the van out in Brixton, and went into the shop - into a bakery - and when he come back the van was broken into and they took out all the records and gone. He was really downhearted for that, so he didn't even bother. I think he left his shop and he's in Jamaica now, Jim Daddy. And he used to have a studio upstairs with sound like Studio One. He got some music there, even the 'Raving' song I did there. I did quite a few tune with him that he got on tape. If I could get my hands on them tapes it would be good because it was some nice tunes. And he got a Studio One feel, that sound he got from his studio. I don't know what Jim Daddy is doing now.
Q: 'What You Gonna Do' for the Uptown label, this was Noel Williams producing, who I believe is better known as King Sporty.
A: Yeah. That's a looong time tune, man! How did you get to know about this tune? Because really and truly it's like the guy that I did that tune for, I don't even know if he press ten copy, I don't know how much he pressed. I see one of the records one time, but I didn't... he just press a few, I don't know what happened. He's not in the business anymore. So, I didn't even know that that song was mentioned (chuckles).
Q: 'She Loves The Rub A Dub' for Robert 'Flacko' Palmer of Negus Roots fame, with Papa Tullo I think, on the deejay part.
A: Yeah (laughs)! Yeah, with Papa Tullo...? I think what happened there, I think them tapes was passed on from people, and they do stuff. Because some of these songs when I've done them, is like I've done them for somebody and it's like the person take the tape and he just sell it to somebody or something else. And it's just missing! I don't even remember anything about them tunes there, unless it's been brought up to me or unless I hear it. Some of them I haven't heard for donkey years, man.
Q: Can you recall 'Must Haffe Nyam' on the Riddim Force label?
A: Which one that? 'Must Ha Fe Nyam'? Ahh, I can't remember that one deh. Can't remember...
Q: There's another one called 'Rasta Expression' on the Culture label.
A: 'Rasta Expression'? (long silence) Um, can't remember... don't remember.
Q: But you probably remember what you did at Randy's for Clive Chin's One Way label, 'Tell Mi Lover Goodbye' and 'Who Say That Satan Stronger Than God'?
Q: Ahh... Yeah, me know that me do a couple a tune at Randy's. But I don't even know if them released them. Ca' we used to go, when me and Jerry used to do some tune, we used to record at Randy's and Miss Pat from dung there she knows, through we used to use her studio and she used to take some songs from us. And sometimes we voice up there and leave it, 'cause it was their session. We just voice and leave it, and we don't even hear anything more. We voice some tune for Mrs Pottinger but that was like Jerry's, I had to give harmony in 'Sweetie Come From America', some other kinda tunes. Them tune deh I don't even remember them until I actually go buck up one copy a it, up at Chips' shop. Chips used to be the man who distribute Mrs Pottinger stuff.
Q: Right, Chips Richards from Sky Note.
A: Yeah. I think he is some pastor now or something like that. So I don't know if him still actually is inna de music business or what he is doing. A lot of mix-up, mix-up gwaan somewhere down the line. And there's still quite a few song where I cyaan remember, 'cause it's so long. Some of them I voiced I give no name, and maybe the first man weh actually put it out now they give it the name themselves, yunno. And I can't remember them unless I hear them play and remember the words, ca' sometimes that's how I remember, hearing me song dem.
Q: A tune called 'Licey Head' for example, remember that?
A: 'Licey Head'? Is that something to do with 'Clean Rasta Dread'?
Q: You mean 'Clean Head Dread'? Don't know.
A: Yeah, 'Clean Head Dread'. Yeah, it's 'Clean Head Dread' but 'Licey Head' I can't remember, unless it's put on the flipside there. I don't know what, if them put it out and sell it or what.
Q: You had 'Jah Is Coming For His Earth', that's a pick from the first album? This was on the Jakes label.
A: Yeah. Jakes, that now... I did that one and I think Jake put it out, ca' it was Jacob Miller label. And it wasn't him I did it for, I did it for Inner Circle. But maybe them say, "Jakes, put that 'pon your label", and maybe them just give it to him and he put it out. 'Cause some people say to me, "Why don't you put out that tune 'Jah Is Coming For His Earth'?" 'Cause I never put it out on seven-inch, and I think it was two tunes Jacob put 'pon him label for me at the time. But them time deh I just young and free and I just say well, y'know, I just want somet'ing fe gwaan. Anybody want to do that, do that, y'know, 'cause I still see with some of these artists that they're crying, they've been robbed, by Coxson or certain man. And at the time they are glad fe do the tune, at the time they just want their tune to be out, to hear that it's just their tune. They don't even care about the money, but then after a while them keep sellin' and they ain't getting nutten so they start to cry. But that was the feeling I used to get sometime, but I don't mind singin' that tune free for people so that they can put it out, and I want the tune fe put out and heard, y'know. Some a them tune I don't remember as I say. Some I do remember the title, because I was the one who was responsible for the title. But there was some that I sing, and I leave it in the studio with other title and they might put a title to it which I don't know the name a that title. And they put it out an' if I hear it I would remember, 'cause, well, it is probably in the seventies, really. Twenty or thirty years ago, really. It's still good that some of those songs that was there you can be tellin' me about them, ca' I didn't even know that people would really hear them or recognise them. I don't even know about them (chuckles). But right now me and Mikey Brooks a flex an' Anthony Johnson, and Inner Circle say them fe come tune in 'pon them again in Miami, 'cause them big, so we go line-up the long time days again. It will be nice, trust me.
David Jahson has never been one of the name-brand artists in Jamaican music, but his debut album for Inner Circle is an overlooked classic as I see it and well worth investigating. As discussed within this interview, the album first appeared on the Lewis brothers' Top Ranking imprint out of Miami, later it came reissued in the early nineties on the French label Crocodisc, a subsidiary to Esoldun. A pirate. This is now withdrawn, thankfully, and Jahson controls the release on his own Pick A Skill label, adding the hit itself for the first time to the album. 'Natty Chase The Barber' is made up of typically late seventies hard roots and steppers rhythms, the Circle crew assisted by Sly & Robbie on several cuts, and Prince Jammy controls the mix on this one. Jahson has a sort of laid back 'country' style to his singing and songwriting, very gentle and easy going in a way. Nice and smooth, a touch of his own of course but also pretty familiar from that era. His other releases are not quite as consistent as the debut, but 'Past & Present' offers some nice tracks such as his and Jerry Baxter's version of the Wailing Souls' classic 'Mr Fire Coal Man', the original 'Formula', among others. There is also the 'Child Of A King' album and the most recent, 'In Charge', released this summer of 2006. The French Heartical label also reissued 'Clean Head Dread' on a crisp 7" in 2002, so look for that as well.
7" single information courtesy Roots Knotty Roots.
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